Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
How to Build a Fuel Cell

How to Build a Fuel Cell

Ratings: (0)|Views: 11|Likes:
Published by SabrinaMe
Homebrew

Making Electricity with Hydrogen
Walt Pyle, Alan Spivak, Reynaldo Cortez, and Jim Healy

Although the fuel cell described produces a relatively low voltage, several fuel cells of this kind can be wired in series to produce higher voltages and do useful work. The PEM Material The PEM (proton exchange membrane) material is a perfluorosulfonic acid polymer film. Several manufacturers make PEMs in one form or another. We used one made by du Pont called Nafion 117. Nafion 117 is a transpare
Homebrew

Making Electricity with Hydrogen
Walt Pyle, Alan Spivak, Reynaldo Cortez, and Jim Healy

Although the fuel cell described produces a relatively low voltage, several fuel cells of this kind can be wired in series to produce higher voltages and do useful work. The PEM Material The PEM (proton exchange membrane) material is a perfluorosulfonic acid polymer film. Several manufacturers make PEMs in one form or another. We used one made by du Pont called Nafion 117. Nafion 117 is a transpare

More info:

Published by: SabrinaMe on Mar 17, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

05/27/2010

pdf

text

original

 
42
Home Power #35 June / July 1993 
MakingElectricitywith Hydrogen
Walt Pyle, Alan Spivak, ReynaldoCortez, and Jim Healy
 ©1993 Walt Pyle
A
gas fed battery that never needsrecharging! This articledescribes a process for buildinga fuel cell using tools and techniquesany skilled hobbyist with a well-equipped shop can duplicate. The fuelcell that we built can produce directcurrent electricity from stored hydrogenand oxygen. We obtained the hydrogenfor this fuel cell commercially but planto produce hydrogen and oxygen froma renewable energy system based onsolar photovoltaics and waterelectrolyzers.
Cookbook Approach to Building a Fuel Cell
In this article we reveal the process we used to make aproton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell.First, we describe what the PEM material is, and whereto get it. Then we cover the steps necessary forpreparing the membrane to use it in a fuel cell.Next, we describe the catalyst and binders used onboth sides of the PEM and the method of “hot-pressing” them all together to form the single fuel cellcatalyst-PEM-catalyst “sandwich”.Finally, the holder for the catalyzed PEM fuel cell withits gas supply piping, insulators, and wiring studs isshown.Some PEM fuel cell performance data were obtainedusing an electrical resistor to provide a variable load.Two digital multimeters and a shunt resistor were usedto measure the voltage and current, so we couldcalculate the power produced.Although the fuel cell described produces a relativelylow voltage, several fuel cells of this kind can be wiredin series to produce higher voltages and do usefulwork.
The PEM Material
The PEM (proton exchange membrane) material is aperfluorosulfonic acid polymer film. Severalmanufacturers make PEMs in one form or another. Weused one made by du Pont called Nafion 117. Nafion117 is a transparent polymer film about 175 microns(0.007 inches) thick. Dow Chemical Co., AsahiChemical Co., and Chloride Engineers Ltd. makesomething similar. A patent describing how one PEMmanufacturer’s film is processed is listed in thereferences section at the end of this article.The basic structural unit formula for Nafion 117 isshown below:
CF
2
=
CFOCF
2
CFOCF
2
CF
2
SO
3
H
 \ 
CF
3
Nafion 117 contains fluorine, carbon, oxygen, sulfur,and hydrogen arranged in repeating polymermolecules. The hydrogen atom on the SO
3
part of themolecule can detach from one SO
3
site. The free H+proton can hop from SO
3
site to SO
3
site through thematerial, to emerge on the other side of the membrane.This is the reason it is called a proton exchangemembrane. It can be thought of as solid sulfuric acid,an electrolyte.The PEM is relatively expensive at this point in time.We paid about $100 for a 30.5 centimeter by 30.5centimeter (12 inch by 12 inch) piece of Nafion 117from a chemical supply house. Some manufacturerswant your first born child in exchange for a sample.However, du Pont really is in the PEM business, andthey will sell it to you with no strings attached from theirpilot plant production. The price comes down to about$65 for the same size piece when you buy four timesas much PEM direct from du Pont. The piece webought was large enough to make about six of ourround fuel cells ($10–$16/cell).
Punching the PEM Disk from a Sheet of Nafion 117
We set the sheet of Nafion 117 on a piece of cleanacrylic plastic using clean cotton gloves to avoidcontaminating the sheet with fingerprints. Then wepunched out some round PEM disks using a 4.76centimeter (1
7
 ⁄ 
8
inch) arch punch and a mechanicshammer filled with lead powder. After one or two tries,we found that several strikes with the hammer atdifferent angles was best for cutting the disk free fromthe sheet. Striking the punch too hard shattered theacrylic sheet.
Homebrew
Homebrew
 
43
Home Power #35 June / July 1993 
Beaker 4 = 100 milliliters distilled water [rinsesulfuric acid from surface and hydrate PEM].Beaker 5 = 100 milliliters distilled water [repeatrinse].Beaker 6 = 100 milliliters distilled water [repeatrinse].While the PEM disk is in a beaker, there may be atendency for the film to curl and lift on the steambubbles, rising to the surface. It should be keptsubmerged so the top side doesn’t get exposed to air.Use a clean inert polyethylene plastic or glass probe tokeep it down in the dipping solution.We used a Taylor candy thermometer for controllingthe beaker bath temperature, and adjusted the gasstove burner controls as needed. From time to time,more water had to be added to the bath surroundingthe beakers, due to evaporation.After the PEM disk was dipped in each of the six hotsolution beakers for an hour, it was then wiped with apiece of lint-free lens cleaning tissue, and air-dried in aclean place.
The Catalyst Layer Material
The catalyst layer is the most expensive part of thisfuel cell. It is made from a mixture of platinum, carbonpowder, and PEM powder, bonded to a conductivecarbon fiber cloth. We obtained ours from E-Tek Inc.The cost for an order of their ELAT catalyst cloth sheetincludes a setup charge. So get together with othersfor a larger order if you want to keep costs down. Wepaid $360 for a piece of ELAT 15.2 centimeters by15.2 centimeters [6 inches by 6 inches] including the$150 setup charge. This piece provides enough forabout twelve disks. Each fuel cell requires two disks ofELAT and one larger disk of PEM to make thesandwich, so you can make six cells from this size
Homebrew
Handle the PEM with tweezers or forceps to preventcontamination. We used a pair of stainless steeltweezers which were ground flat and polished on thegrasping faces to eliminate burrs and preventpuncturing or denting the soft PEM. Grasp the PEMdisks only on the outer peripheral edge, never on theinner active area.
Preparing the PEM for Catalyst Application
We prepared the film for catalyst application by dippingit in six different heated solutions in glass beakers. Thesolutions were all held at 8C (176°F) by immersingthe beakers in a heated pan of water on top of two gasstove burners as shown above right.Each beaker held the PEM film for one hour insequence. Use safety glasses and gloves whileworking with the solutions. The sequence of beakersused to dip the PEM was set up as follows:Beaker 1 = 100 milliliters of distilled water [hydratethe membrane and dissolve surface contaminants].Beaker 2 = 100 milliliters of 3% hydrogen peroxidesolution (USP) [remove organic contaminants fromPEM surface].Beaker 3 = 100 milliliters of sulfuric acid (newbattery electrolyte) [remove metal ion contaminantsfrom PEM surface, and sulfonate the PEM surface].Above: Punching PEM from sheet with arch punch.
Photo by Reynaldo Cortez
Above: Solutions in beakers on top of stove.
Photo by Reynaldo Cortez
 
44
Home Power #35 June / July 1993 
piece of ELAT ($60/cell). The cost may have comedown by now due to increased production at E-Tek.In the future it may be possible to reduce the cost byputting the catalyst coating directly on the PEM with aplatinum-carbon ink, as practiced by Los AlamosNational Laboratory.
Preparing the ELAT Catalyst/Binder Layers
Two catalyst layer disks were punched from an E-TekELAT sheet. The sheet was placed on clean acrylicplastic and the disks were punched with a 3.8centimeter (1.5 inch) arch punch and the mechanicshammer.Next, we coated the heating plates with graphite from anumber two pencil and smoothed it out with a Q-tip tomake a release and contamination shield layer. Thethree layers (catalyst-PEM-catalyst) of the sandwichwere then set on top of the lower heating plate. Aftercarefully aligning the layers, so that the smaller catalystdisks were centered above and below the larger PEMdisk, the upper heating plate was placed on top of thesandwich. At this time the heaters were off and theplates were at room temperature.
Homebrew
Above: Cutting ELAT catalyst disks.
Photo by Reynaldo Cortez
Be careful to keep track of which side is the active sideof the catalyst impregnated carbon cloth. The activeside has more of the carbon-platinum binder powderand is smoother.
Hot-Pressing the Sandwich Together
A hot press was made using a hydraulic 20 ton shoppress, and two homemade aluminum heating plates.Each heating plate was drilled to accept an electriccartridge heater and a thermocouple. A temperaturecontroller was connected to the heater andthermocouple on each heating plate.The bottle jack on the hydraulic press was drilled andtapped to accept a
1
 ⁄ 
4
inch NPT pipe to connect to apressure gauge.
Procedure for Hot Pressing
First, two ELAT catalyst disks were coated with liquidNafion 117. The coating only went on the active sidethat was to be bonded to the PEM. We used acosmetic brush to put on a single coat (thick enough togive a wet appearance) then let it air dry at roomtemperature in a clean place for one hour. The liquidNafion 117 has a strong alcohol odor, so do thiscoating process in a well-ventilated area.Above: Hot press and heating plates.
Photo by Reynaldo Cortez
Next, the two temperature controllers were activatedand the sandwich was taken up to 90°C (194°F) forone hour to evaporate the solvents from the liquidNafion 117 catalyst coating. The temperature was thenraised to 130°C (266°F) over the next 30 minutes. Thisis the PEM glass transition temperature.Once the heating plates and the sandwich reached130°C, pressure was applied using the hydraulic jack,up to 2.16 MPa (300 psig). Shortly thereafter, thepressure fell off as the PEM was squeezed by theheated plates and the sandwich became thinner.After two minutes at temperature and pressure, thetemperature controllers were turned off and the platesand sandwich cooled to room temperature.

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->